How to change the character encoding in Google Chrome

While surfing the Internet, Chrome users may sometimes encounter such an issue, when you go to a particular site, it will be displayed incorrectly and instead of English letters, you will see unreadable scribbles. This problem can be caused by incorrect browser settings, software conflicts with installed add-ons, or server problems. In any case, the user can try to change the encoding in Chrome to display the sites in a readable form.

What is character encoding

There are many different alphabets in the world with letters and numbers. Each of these symbols corresponds to a specific sequence of zeros and ones, at the expense of which the computer processor identifies the letter or number. That’s why as computer technology developed, many special tables were created in which the columns and rows are used to calculate the desired character. These tables represent the encoding.

The most common encoding is Unicode (UTF-8) which accounts for 97.8% of all web pages.

Encodings list on the Charset extension
Encodings list on the Charset extension

Why change the encoding

Whenever a Google Chrome user accesses sites that don’t support the encoding enabled in the browser and that don’t match the one set on the server, the site will display incorrect characters. Therefore, you need to manually change the encoding of the page in Google Chrome to make it readable.


Chrome developers add new features and optimize their software by removing little-used elements at the same time. This was exactly the approach used in version 55 where the integrated encoding change function was abolished. If you use Google Chrome before version 55, you can change the encoding as follows:

  • Launch the browser on your computer;
  • Go to the browser menu by clicking the appropriate sign in the top right corner of the browser. Depending on the browser version, this sign may be in the form of three dots, three horizontal lines, or a wrench shape;
  • Find the “More Tools” section and select the “Encoding” menu item;
  • In the pop-up window select the desired encoding type.

For users of versions 55 and later of Google Chrome, you can change the encoding by installing plugins such as Charset.

Automatic encoding

Sometimes the incorrect display of the site can be corrected if the page encoding in Chrome is set to “Automatic”. To do this, follow these steps:

  • In the upper right corner of your browser, click on the three dots;
  • Depending on your version of the browser, select the section called “More Tools” or “Advanced Tools”;
  • In the new pop-up menu window that appears, select the “Encoding” section;
  • In the new pop-up window, among the many different encodings, select the one called “Automatic”.


To convert the browser to UTF-8 encoding:

  • Click on the three dots in the upper right corner;
  • Select “More Tools”;
  • Select “Encoding”;
  • Among the many encodings that appear, select “UTF-8”.

Selecting the automatic encoding and manually switching to UTF-8 only works on older versions of Chrome.

Charset extension

The Charset extension can be found in the official Chrome Web store:

  • In the search bar of the store, type the name of the extension;
  • Click “Add to Chrome” – “Add extension”;
  • It will start working immediately, without restarting the browser.
The Charset extension in the Chrome Web store
The Charset extension in the Chrome Web store

To change the encoding, simply click on the Charset icon in the upper right corner of the browser and choose the desired one from the drop-down list.

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Mike Lombardi/ author of the article

QA engineer, head of automated software testing department. Knowledge of Java, C/C++, JSP, HTML, XML, JavaScript, SQL and Oracle PL/SQL. Journalist and columnist in the IT field. Website creator and administrator.

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